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Again, Messi is world’s best as Argentina clears FIFA Awards

Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to its third FIFA World Cup glory in December, yesterday, in Paris regained FIFA’s Best Footballer Award. He beat his Paris St. Germain teammate, Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid star, Karim Benzema, to the crown.

The Best FIFA Women’s Player award went to Alexis Putellas of Barcelona and Spain, who retained the crown she won in 2021. She defeated Arsenal’s Beth Mead (England) and Alex Morgan of San Diego Waves, the United States

The 35-year-old Messi enjoyed a stellar 2022, as he won the Ligue 1 title with PSG, making valuable contributions along the way.

Messi’s brightest stage in 2022 was at the World Cup, hosted by Qatar, in December when he led Argentina to the victory.

The former Barcelona star finished the tournament with the Golden Ball on his way to realising the only goal he was yet to accomplish in his trophy-laden career.

The 35-year-old has been in the news a great deal of late due to his uncertain future in Paris. Messi’s contract with PSG expires at the end of the season and while it appeared that he could prolong his stay at one point, it does not seem that way any longer.

Barcelona, for their part, are keen on re-signing Messi and it remains to be seen how that pursuit fares over the coming months.

As it was at the World Cup final, Messi faced his Paris St. Germain teammate, Mbappe, who was the star performer for defending champions, France, scoring a rare hat trick, the first in 56 years.

The ceremony in Paris gave Messi his second FIFA Award to add to the seven Ballon d’Or seven he already had.

FIFA introduced the Best Awards after splitting with organisers of the Ballon d’Or in 2019.

The winner was decided by a jury comprising the coach and captain of every men’s national team and one journalist from each country, as well as votes from fans.

The ceremony began with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, declaring the event open.

He said: “Tonight, we celebrate the best, those who make our hearts beat.

“We have just experienced the best World Cup, an incredible event we will never forget.”

He paid tribute to the late king of football, Pele, who died in December at the age of 82. When he mentioned the late Brazilian great star, the hall erupted in ululation. “Pele is eternal. He is with us. He will always be with us,” he said.

Former Brazil international, Ronaldo de Lima, also paid tribute to Pele, saying, Pele inspired every young Brazilian to strive to be great in the game.

He presented a trophy to Pele’s wife, who was present in the arena.

The awards kicked off with the FIFA Best Woman Goalkeeper award, which went to Mary Earps of Manchester United and England, who beat Ann-Katrin Berger of Chelsea and Germany and Christiane Endler of Chile, who plays for Lyon in France.

The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award went to World Cup winner, Emiliano Martinez of Argentina (Aston Villa), who beat Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) and Morocco’s Yassine Bounou (Sevilla) to the crown.

The Puskas Award for the best goal of the year went to Marcin Oleksy of Warta Poznan amputee team, Poland, who beat Tottenham and Brazil’s Richarlison and Marseilles Dimitri Payet to the crown.

Sarina Wiegman, who guided England to the European Championship last year, won the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award. She defeated Sonia Bompastor of European Champions League winners, Lyon, and Pia Sundhage, who steered Brazil to Copa America success, to take the crown.

Argentina’s Lionel Scaloni won the Best FIFA Men’s Coach award for guiding the Albiceleste to the Qatar 2022 World Cup glory. He defeated Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti to the award.

Luka Lochoshvili of Serie A club, Cremonese, and Georgia won the FIFA Fair Play Award with the FIFA Best Fans Award going to Argentina.

Named in the Best FIFA Women’s 11 were Christiane Endler, Lucy Bronze, Mapi Leon, Leah Williamson, Wendie Renarda, Alexis Morgan, Sam Kerr and Beth Mead, while in the men’s 11 were Thibaut Courtois, Achraf Hakimi, Joao Cancelo, Virgil van Dijk, Kevin de Bruyne, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland.

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